Need a stylish dock for all your Apple things? This project is for you. It's a 3D printed rapid charging station for your iPhone 7, AirPods, and Apple Watch. The soft inserts for each product are press-fit so they can be changed out to fit a new version of each product if need be.
Step 1: Tools + Materials
- 3D Printer
- 3D Print Filament
- I used Matte Fiber HTPLA from Proto-pasta for this project, but pretty much any filament will work. I like this stuff because the finish looks really good.
- I used Polymaker Polyflex for the rubber feet. This stuff is good for this application because it creates more friction on a desk top to keep the sign from sliding around.
- M3 Screws: $13 for 260 pc.: You could use any screws and nuts around this size, but I find these work well for small 3D printed mechanical projects.
- 100 Point Chipboard: $1.50 / sheet: This is used for the three panels and the sign panel. You can cut it with a straight edge and a hobby knife.
- USB Multi Tap: $45: This is a 4 port, 3 amp rapid charger made by Hardened Power Systems in Tennessee. I've tested it and it's more than 50% faster than the 5 amp Apple charger at charging my phone. At $45, it's hard to beat the price, and I always buy from small local guys whenever I can.
- Powerpole Cable: $9: This is how you connect the Multi Tap to the DC terminal. If you have a crimper you can just crimp your own wires with powerpole connectors.
- 12V 7A AC /DC Adaptor: $14: Any 12V adaptor will do, but you'll want one that's got a high amperage output to take full advantage of the multi-tap. Technically you'd need 12A to get top performance out of the multi tap (3 amps X 4 ports), but it seems really unlikely to me that the watch and the EarPods would pull 3 amps.
- Lightening Cables (2): $8 ea.: Any generic cable will probably do, this one works with the files I designed.
- Apple Watch Cable: $28: It's important that you use this model or one that's the same size, bigger ones won't fit.
- USB Extension Cable: $5: I added this as an extra USB charging output
- 5.5mm x 2.1mm DC Jack Connector: $7: This connects the powepole cable to the AC adaptor.
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Step 2: Design and Files
The STL files are 3d-printable files ready for a slicer. I use Simplify 3D because I like the UI but Cura is free and I see a lot of good results with that program.
The PDF file is an 8.5 X 11 printable layout for the chip board panels. You can print these out and use them as templates to cut out the ship board pieces with an exacto knife.
The F3D file is a Fusion design archive that you can upload and edit as you like.
Step 3: Assemble 3D Printed Parts
With all the parts printed the assembly is pretty easy. All you have to do is use some glue in the cavities where the parts meet as shown. I used Gorilla Glue gel but just about any CA glue or E6000 would work for this.
Step 4: Attach the Panels
Once the 3D printed parts were assembled I used more Gorilla Glue Gel to stick the panels to the cavities. I had a hard time getting the support material to properly hold up the semi circular trim on the front of the phone cavity. Instead of printing a new part (lots of time and material) I just designed a little snap-on trim as shown in the pictures. It looks fine and does the job.
Step 5: Cables and Sleeves
All the sleeves are made of flexible PLA. This makes it easy for the products to fit snugly. The charging cables fit in the cavities as shown so that the male end sticks up out of the bottom. I tested it and they fit perfectly. The phone sleeve is just right but the AirPods sleeve is a bit snug. I might offset the inner wall by about .5mm total so it's a little easier to take out.
Step 6: Cables and Electronics
This part is really simple too. I wound the cables so they'd fit in the cavity in the upper part of the dock, using zip ties to keep them wound tight. The USB extension and DC terminal fit perfectly in the holes, and I used hot glue to stick them to the surface of the dock as shown. The power pole connectors are color coded and their ends go into the screw terminals on the DC terminal. Remember, black is negative, red is positive.
I used some sticky-back velcro on the multi-tap and the underside of the bottom panel to keep the multi-tap in place. It took a minute to get the cables situated so they wouldn't pinch or twist (we don't want anything shorting out), but everything fit just fine.
The holes in the bottom of the dock are sized slightly smaller than the screw threads so that the M3 screws basically tap into the holes. If you have an M3 tap you might get a cleaner fit than just screwing them in, but this worked fine for me.
Step 7: Flexible Feet
I also made some feet out of flexible PLA to make some friction on the desktop. I didn't factor in tolerance for the interfaces on the feet so there's a little gap I'm not crazy about, but It's not very noticeable.
Step 8: Ready to Charge
All things considered, I'm really happy with this project. It works like a charm, looks good, and tidies up my desk considerably.
If I were to make it again I might make some kind of modular insert for the tray on the back- maybe a cradle for an iPad charger or something like that.
Did you make your own? Show us what you got!